ATHENS — The Los Angeles Rams traded for Matthew Stafford believing the former Georgia star will lead them to the Super Bowl, and an unscientific Twitter flash poll on Thursday indicates half the people who responded agreed.
Precisely 50 percent of the first 476 respondents said the former Detroit Lions franchise QB will make it to the big game.
Another 20 percent of those surveyed said they believe Stafford will lead the Rams franchise to its first Super Bowl victory since a 23-16 victory over Tennessee in 2000, back when the team was still playing in St. Louis.
Of course, there’s the other half who question the 33-year-old Stafford’s ability to get the job done. Whether it be because of his history of injuries (back, ribs, ankle), or his lack of NFL playoff success in Detroit (0-for-3 in playoff games), Stafford has his doubters.
Former New England Super Bowl champion Tedy Bruschi went so far as to say Stafford would not have been tough enough to play quarterback for the Patriots like Tom Brady.
“He’s not tough enough to play here,” Bruschi told WEEI sports radio earlier this month.
“He’s just not tough enough. I don’t think he’s tough enough to be coached hard. I mean, do you realize the mental toughness that Tom Brady had to have for 20 years to deal with Bill Belichick and that type of coaching? I mean, constant pressure every single day. Does Stafford sort of grab you as a guy who could handle that? I just don’t think so.
“So he went to Sean McVay and get his little best friend relationship and go have fun over there.”
That’s certainly the plan.
Matthew Stafford is going to the West Coast, and he’s got something to prove. 💯🌆
— Georgia Football (@GeorgiaFootball) February 18, 2021
If anyone can appreciate Stafford, it’s UGA fans.
Stafford, after all, is the only Georgia quarterback to beat Nick Saban at Alabama, a 26-23 overtime in Tuscaloosa in 2007.
“I think we ran I-left, Y-return, 142 double-go, and I threw a touchdown to Mikey Henderson in the back left of the end zone. It was a go ball,” Stafford said this week, taking a moment to reflect on the game-winning play the last time a Bulldogs team topped the Crimson Tide.
“I remember it was a great catch by him. I remember celebrating like crazy after that one.”
The Rams are hoping to celebrate on their home field at the conclusion of next season in the same fashion Tom Brady and the Buccaneers did after winning Super Bowl LV.
Super Lvl is scheduled for February of 2022 in SoFi Stadium.
“I asked to go to a team that was ready to win a championship,” Stafford said, per NFL.com. “And, you know, there were a few teams on that list. There were a few teams that were not on that list. And they were respectful of that and understood completely. I had thoughts and reasons for each one of them.”
The Rams dealt fifth-year QB Jared Goff, along with two first-round picks and a third-round pick, for Stafford. The players have already communicated via text message.
“We texted a little bit; just told him that I know going out there I’ve got big shoes to fill,” Stafford told Detroit Free-Press columnist Mitch Albom.
“It’s not lost on me that he was in the Super Bowl just a few years ago.”
Stafford, meanwhile, has not led the Lions to the NFL playoffs since 2016, when Detroit lost at Seattle by a 26-6 count.
Stafford’s other playoff appearances were in 2014 (24-20 loss to Dallas), and in 2011 (a 45-28 defeat in New Orleans).
The Stafford family — wife Kelly cheered at Georgia — left Detroit with a $1 million gift to fund the Kelly and Matthew Stafford and Friends Education Center for SAY Detroit.
The gift is for the nonprofit organization founded by Detroit sportswriter and author Mitch Albom.
The past year has indeed been as tough on the Staffords as most anyone, with Matthew dealing with a false-positive COVID test that wreaked havoc on the family dealings.
The Stafford family pulled through, just as it did when Kelly overcame surgery to remove a brain tumor.
Georgia fans will again rally around Stafford and his family as they look to realize Matthew’s football dreams on the West Coast.
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